Geography 107Introduction to Human Geography California State University, Northridge
What is Geography • Geography is a subject. • Geography is a discipline. • Geographers use a set of methodologies. • Geographers have an epistemology. • Geographers ask, “Where?” when they want to know “Why?” • Geography is what geographers do. • Anything that takes place can be studied from a geographic perspective.
What’s wrong with Geography? • The “Mother of all Disciplines”… • Ancient history • Encyclopedia of every place…
Environmental Determinism. • Flawed notion that culture is a direct response to the dictates of climate and topography. • Popular during the 1800s-1920s. • Has some ugly potentialities and undermined the success of Geography as a discipline.
How this course works • The most important thing for you to learn is how to think…epistemology and methodology. • You will be introduced to a series of subjects (politics, language, ethnicity, industry, etc.) • You will be shown how geographers understand these topics and how spatial thinking can be applied.
Some preliminaries… • Background vocabulary and some basic skills are in order…
Place is important • Location • Position • Description • Site • Physical characteristics • Attributes • Situation • Relative location • Comparisons • Significance of location
Region • Several different types of regions…or groupings of places. • Formal • Functional • Vernacular
Functional Region • Has a concentrated center and fuzzy boundaries and is based frequently on economic linkages, communication and transportation ties. • “Core and Periphery” • KTLA, a Los Angeles TV station has a functional region… • “LA” is a functional region that extends outward to include suburbs...
Formal Regions • Formal regions are defined by some characteristic. • The characteristic may be absolute, or simply “predominate”
Formal Region: Election • All the people who have an address in California can vote as “Californians”.
Note the German heartland is both Protestant and German speaking, but the periphery is Catholic and more likely to include other languages. Formal Region: German Speakers
Formal Region: Rural America • figure
Vernacular Region • A region perceived to exist by people living within it, or by outsiders. • An outgrowth of a sense of belonging • Probably an outgrowth of a need to exclude others as well. • Powerful emotionally • Hard to characterize systematically • “SoCal” is a vernacular region…
Vernacular Regions • “Dixie” is another word for the the southern US, but exactly where is “The South”?
Where? Where! • “Where?”, is the most important question geographers ask. • Where things are give us important clues about why they are as they are. • Historians tend to ask “When?”…and focus on chronology. • Geographers focus on chorology…or more commonly “distribution”
Properties of Distribution Density – measurement Number of objects Land area Concentration Clustering Dispersal Pattern Irregular Linear Rectangular Grid Cholera map…
Payday Lenders vs. Doughnut Shops • Which industry do you think is more concentrated in the San Fernando Valley? • If one industry is concentrated spatial and the other is not, what inferences can we draw about the competitive nature of each industry?
Connectivity • Spatial interaction • Characteristics spread through diffusion
Diffusion Characteristic spreads across space and time Hearth - locations and nodes Relocation diffusion – physical movement Expansion diffusion Hierarchical Contagious Stimulus Figure 1.9.2
Environmental Determinism • Flawed notion that culture is a direct response to the dictates of climate and topography. • Popular during the 1800s-1920s. • Has some ugly potentialities and undermined the success of Geography as a discipline.
Environmental Possibilism • People are the primary architects of culture, although the environment gives us options that we may choose to follow or ignore.
Environmental Possibilism? • figure
Environmental Possibilism? • figure
Environmental Perception • This school argues that perception of the environment is most important. • Ignorance is as important as knowledge • Geomancy or Feng Shui • Natural hazards and hazard zones
Hazard Location • Figure
Hazard Location: Malibu • figure
Humans as modifiers of the earth • Opposite of environmental determinism. • Argue that it is humans that are in the drivers seat in this relationship.
Earth Modification • figure
Cultural Integration • Cultures are complex wholes • Cultures are integrated systems • Each cultural aspect is dependent on others • Example: religion and politics and economics and race and … • Cultural determinism is a danger
Social Science • Scientific method applied to people • Laws are sought which explain humans spatial behavior • According to the text, space (geometric space) is a key concept in this modernist approach. • Model building is common • Economic determinism is a danger • Some progress made in accounting for geographic variation.
Humanistic geography • Place and place meaning • Humanistic views and subjectivity • This is an area of geography that is very much like English, history or art appreciation.
Postmodernism • Multiple definitions of postmodernism • Critical Theory and Cultural Studies
Cultural Landscape • The built and humanized landscape • Landscapes tell of the culture • Can be “read” like a text • Three principal aspects of cultural landscape • Settlement patterns • Land-division patterns • Architecture
Landscape • Consider the parking structure across from Sierra Hall. What does it suggest about the culture that built it? • What symbolic values does it have? • What is not said?
Conclusion • Example: the American log house